Global Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System
Status of initiative: On track
Description/achievement of initiative

This partnership will build the technical and human resource capabilities of SIDs countries to mitigate dangers from tsunamis. The US, led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), US Agency for International Development Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance (USAID/OFDA), and the US Geological Survey, actively participate in the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) Intergovernmental Coordination Groups (ICG) for the Global Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System. Three new regional systems were established in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean Tsunami (estimated 230,000 casualties) for the Indian Ocean, Caribbean and Adjacent Regions and the North East Atlantic, Mediterranean and Connected Seas, to complement the Pacific Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System that was established in 1965 (celebrating 50th anniversary in 2015). The ICGs together comprise a global, harmonized system that provides the SIDS and all countries with tsunami services, outreach and educational tools and training.

Implementation methodologies

Each tsunami warning system has established its own implementation and action plans. These are based on the requirements as well as the expected resources in the region. Depending on the ICG, there is a meeting every year or every other year in which the progress and gaps are noted. The US contributes to the implementation plan and assists in meeting its action plan through its supported activities. In evaluating the status of the Tsunami Warning System, measurable and monitorable performance indicators have and are being established. Some indicators are that each Members States (SIDS) have designated Tsunami National Contacts and Tsunami Warning Focal Points, seismic and sea level stations contributions to the Tsunami Warning Centers for monitoring forecasting and issuing tsunami warnings, working communication systems for the receipt and dissemination of tsunami products, and preparedness measures such as tsunami evacuation maps, exercises, and awareness and education campaigns.

Arrangements for Capacity-Building and Technology Transfer

The ITIC and CTWP support countries and the ICGs to provide capacity building and technology transfer in close cooperation with the UNESCO IOC and under the direction of the ICG Member States. Both centers also support direct requests from Countries on a bi-lateral basis. The ITIC was established by the UNESCO IOC, and has been hosted by NOAA since its 1965 establishment, to support the Pacific requirements. After the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami, the ITIC provided leadership to countries and the region to establish the new Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System.

Coordination mechanisms/governance structure

The US contributes critical services and support activities as regional and/or country initiatives as a multi-stakeholder partnership at both the regional and global scale. The activities are coordinated through the ICGs, as well as regional organizations such as the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC) Applied Geoscience and Technology Division (SOPAC), and with the relevant international organizations (e.g., UN organizations and the World Bank) and country donor agencies.Real-time tsunami alerts are provided to the Pacific and Caribbean by the US Pacific Tsunami Warning Center (PTWC) and National Tsunami Warning Center (US NTWC), and the International Tsunami Center (ITIC) and Caribbean Tsunami Warning Program (CTWP) provide technical assistance to countries to establish and strengthen their national systems through outreach, educational tools, and training. The USAID/OFDA supports tsunami early warning system initiatives in disaster risk reduction at the national to local level and especially for communities at risk. The US Geological Survey advises national seismological agencies on earthquake monitoring, and supports the Global Seismological Network that serves as the backbone earthquake monitoring system for tsunami warning.


Within the SIDS the main partners of the US Tsunami Program include the officially designated Tsunami National Contacts, Tsunami Warning Focal Points and National Tsunami Warning Centers as part of the UNESCO/IOC Intergovernmental Coordination Groups. Other key partners include Disaster Management Offices and academic and scientific organizations.
Initiatives and projects depend on ICG/Country requests and budget availability
Resources devoted to implementation
Financing (in USD)
In-kind contribution
training and technical assistance
Progress reports
Cut off date each year: 1 July
This initiative fulfils the SMART criteria.
Date of completion: ongoing
Operating in countries
Contact information/focal point(s)
Kristen Koyama, Kristen.Koyama@noaa.gov

Copyright 2017 United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs